COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019)

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that usually cause only mild respiratory diseases such as the common cold. COVID-19 is a more serious strain of coronavirus that spreads and infects people easily. Most children who have had COVID-19 have not gotten very sick.

How COVID-19 is Spread to Others

The virus that causes COVID-19 is being passed from person to person through respiratory secretions – droplets of fluid that are coughed or sneezed into the air. Experts think that the virus can also be spread by touching surfaces that have the virus on them. For example, if you touch a doorknob or other surface that an infected person has touched or sneezed or coughed on then you touch your face, you could pick up the virus.

Signs and Symptoms of COVID-19

  • Fever
  • Cough 
  • Difficulty breathing (shortness of breath)

The symptoms range from mild to severe. 

How to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19

  • Everyone needs to wash hands often. Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol may be used.
  • Everyone must cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing if you are able, or cough or sneeze into their elbow. Throw used tissues in a lined trash can. Wash your hands or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Clean all frequently touched surfaces every day or more often with a household disinfecting spray or wipe, according to the label instructions. These include doorknobs, light switches, faucets and toilet handles and other hard surfaces that are also touched by members of your household.

What to Expect if Your Child Needs to be Tested for COVID-19

  • If your child has symptoms of COVID-19, they will be asked to wear a mask
  • Your healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms, about recent travel, and contact with sick people. 
  • If the healthcare provider feels testing for COVID-19 is needed, a nose swab will be done. With this test, a cotton-tipped swab is wiped inside of the nose to check for the virus. Some children may have a small amount of bleeding from the nose after this test is done.

For Children Sent Home After Testing

  • You will be notified by Nationwide Children’s Hospital of your child’s test results in about 3 to 5 days.
  • It is important to monitor your child’s symptoms and seek medical care if they worsen (e.g., have difficulty breathing).  Before seeking care, call your child’s healthcare provider and tell them that your child has been tested for COVID-19. Have your child put on a facemask before you enter the facility.

Caring for Your Child at Home Until Test Results are Known

If your child has been tested for COVID-19, for the safety of your family, please begin the practices listed below until you are called with testing results.

  • Start home isolation: Keep your child at home except to get medical care. Have your child avoid large group gatherings, including public areas and public transportation. Children should not go to school or work until you have been notified that it is safe to do so.
  • As much as possible, keep your child away from other members of your household. Ideally, have them remain in a certain room and use a separate bathroom. 
  • Avoid close face-to-face contact, as much as possible. 
  • Do not let your child share household items such as dishes, utensils, towels and bedding with others. Be sure to wash items thoroughly with soap and water after use.
  • Avoid unnecessary visitors in your home.
  • Have your child avoid contact with pets and other animals.  Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended to limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus.

If Your Child is Positive for COVID-19

  • Continue with home isolation until instructed by the state or local health department that normal activity can resume.
  • Continue with all the measures as listed above to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Follow all recommendations provided by your child’s healthcare provider.

How COVID-19 is Treated

  • There are no medicines to treat COVID-19 in children at this time.
  • Encourage plenty of age-appropriate fluids to drink
  • Encourage your child to rest often.
  • Never give your child products containing ASPIRIN unless instructed specifically by a doctor.
  • You may give fever-reducing medicine, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, as needed. FOLLOW ALL PACKAGE DOSING INSTRUCTIONS.
  • Contact your doctor with any questions.
  • Do NOT ignore worsening symptoms

When to Call the Doctor

If your child has: 

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness
  • Breathing very fast
  • Turning blue around the mouth
  • Sucking in of the skin between the ribs when breathing (retractions)
  • Symptoms worsen
  • Your child appears very ill

Resources for More COVID-19 Information

  • See the Centers for Disease Control website (https://www.cdc.gov) for the most up to date information about COVID-19.  The main page has a link for all COVID-19 topics.  
  • The Ohio Department of Health: (Coronavirus.ohio.gov). They provide a phone line you can call with any COVID-19 questions at 1-833-427-5634. 
  • Another resource to answer your questions is the 700 Children’s Blog, which you can find on our website (www.nationwidechildrens.org).  Once you are on the main hospital page, search for COVID-19.

COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) (PDF)

HH-I-466 © 3/23/2020, Nationwide Children’s Hospital